Festival promises a day filled with fun, food and music

29 Aug

MIKE-DUPUY
The Penns Valley Conservation Association (PVCA) is hosting their annual outdoor event “Crickfest” this Sunday, Sept. 2, at the community park in Coburn.

The small village of Coburn is not much different than it was 50, or perhaps, 100 years ago.

Roomy Victorian style houses line the main street, and Penns Creek sits to the south side of the town, winding its way through this very rural part of Centre County.

Finding Coburn is fairly easy if you have a GPS, or even just a basic knowledge of the area, and most who make it there will agree that the journey to the little, old fashioned, looking community is a large part of the joy of visiting there.

The picturesque drive takes travelers through the lush, green, Penns Valley farmland, complete with ganders of not only the aforementioned Penns Creek, but also a spectacular view of its sister waterway, Elk Creek.

Coburn is typically a quiet haven, with the most activity on any given day coming from a group of locals making use of the park with a game of Ultimate Frisbee, but each year, on the first Sunday in September, that changes. Hundreds, and quite possibly upwards of one thousand, people flock to an extraordinary festival in Coburn where art, community and nature all come together on a small plot of ground on the backside of this one horse town.

The festival is simply called “Crickfest,” and it will blow your mind and refresh your soul in one swift, sun-covered, swoop.

This coming Sunday marks the 16th year for Crickfest, and as in years past, it promises to be a day filled with fun, food, and music, and will take place rain or shine from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

All of the proceeds from Crickfest will go directly to fund the Penns Valley Conservation Association’s Environmental Education Classes that are taught in the Penns Valley School District. Each year since 2003 the PVCA covers the salary for a part time teacher to educate students about the benefits of preserving the area’s natural resources.

Crickfest 16 will be as terrific as the past 15, with live entertainment and delicious food.

Guests are encouraged to kick back and have a relaxing time and bring along their fishing gear, or just simply play in the beautiful, trout filled waters of Penns Creek. There will be kayaks near the creek’s edge to use at your leisure and an instructor to assist first timers.

As in previous years the menu features a broad selection of cuisines to suit any taste, with everything from barbecue to stew.

EcoVents Catering and UpTexas BBQ in Millheim will be serving up BBQ Brisket and pulled pork from their handmade, steampunk-esque portable roaster named “LeRoy.” EcoVents and UpTexas BBQ uses locally sourced beef and pork as well as local, in season produce and other foods.

For those who want something a bit spicier, Brazilian Munchies from Bellefonte, is cooking up some Brazilian Beef Stew and Pao de Queijo (cheese bread).

And if you are really adventurous, travel to North Africa as Nittany Catering, also from Centre County, offers up the classic dish, Morocco Tagine. This lovely, flavor-filled stew will be served in a waste-free, acorn squash bowl.

For those of you with a sweet tooth, the Sweet Creek Cafe will be on hand with an array of unique and delicious baked goods donated by members of the Penns Valley community.

Kids will find fun, educational crafts and activities in the Children’s Creativity Tent. Helpers will show children how to make hands-on art work using items from the environment.

Other stations for kids can be found around Crickfest with past year’s all around favorite being the “water bottle rockets.” And all youngsters will agree that it’s not Crickfest with out the duck and zucchini boat races.

Volunteers from the Pennsylvania Amphibian and Reptile Survey will be presenting a wildlife demonstration, and Millheim resident, Max Engle will be educating everyone on how to build a bat house.

Master Falconer, Mike Dupuy, of Middleburg, will give a falconry and birds of prey demonstration where he will captivate the audience through his knowledge of the age old sport.

Dupuy has decades of experience and is one of the nation’s top falconry/birds of prey experts. He is a very sought after public speaker who consistently draws his audience into his world by teaching them about the benefits of getting involved in falconry. Through the sharing of his personal experiences, he inspires and motivates others to follow their own dreams.

A musical variety show will begin at 11a.m. and will feature local bands and artists that include the Poe Valley Troubadours, Richard Sleigh, and the Unbanned. The final act of the day will be a Ukulele Jam with Mary Anne Cleary. Cleary invites those with ukes to bring their instrument and a music stand along to join in on a jam session.

As per Crickfest tradition, there will be a silent auction where bidders can try their hand at taking home a hand crafted piece of art or a gift certificate for local businesses along with many other wonderfully donated items.

The Penns Valley Conservation Association serves as a steward for the natural and cultural communities in the Upper Penns Creek watershed.

The event is free and open to everyone, from everywhere.

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This Stranger Things Season 3 Teaser Features An 80s Mall Food Court

24 Jul

Netflix just gave fans a first glimpse at season three of Stranger Things with a clip showing the inside of a new neon-lit mall in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana. The promo is scarily on point to a real ’80s advertisement too for the Starcourt Mall, and fans are left to question WHAT DOES THIS MEAN??

The promo announces that Hawkin’s is “taking another step into the future” but no other details are revealed about the show’s main plot line. Familiar name brands that are a blast from the past: Waldenbrooks, Sam Goody, and the Gap, are all shown in the teaser, too.

stranger-things-season-3-teaser

Lastly we see Steve Harrington a.k.a. Joe Keery working in the Starcourt Food Court at an ice cream shop called Scoops Ahoy. He’s seen beside a new character named Robin played by Maya Hawke, both in a little sailor outfits.

There’s no doubt malls just like this one were actually big hubs for teens of suburbia to hang at in the 80s. Only time will tell what’s going to go down there in the third season of the sci-fi drama for Mike, Will, Dusty, Lucas and the rest of the gang. Is it next summer yet?

Baked, stuffed squash blossoms are a delicious revelation

16 Jun

squash-blossoms

They may seem complicated, but this simple recipe delivers a light and beautiful dish that is sure to delight.

I am completely smitten with eating flowers, both from the garden and the wild. Aside from the flower-fairy magic of it all, they add unique flavors and color to a dish. And if meat-eaters can minimize food waste by eating nose-to-tail, why can’t plant eaters eat root-to-petal?

Meanwhile, it’s squash season – and as is its wont, that means that summer squash of every size, shape, and color is invading gardens and green markets with beautiful reckless abandon. When over the weekend I saw a giant box of gorgeous squash blossoms for $5.00 – which seemed so cheap compared to their vibrant exuberance – I bought them with stuffing in mind. The thing is, stuffed and fried squash blossoms – or even just batter-dipped – the ways I have mostly seen them prepared, was not all that appealing to me because a) it feels heavy-handed for something so delicate and b) standing over a vat of spattering oil in a hot kitchen on a hot July day did not sound lovely.

So we baked them … and as it turns out, they were nonetheless tender, crispy, and golden, without being saturated in oil. The fleeting flavor of squash remained present, and they made for a perfect side dish redolent of summer and gardens … and a little but of fairy magic.

And they were nearly effortless to make. Mix the few ingredients, stuff, twist, dip and roll in bread crumbs, bake, eat. My family was happy with them as they were, but for anyone wanting less cheese, the ricotta could be beautifully diluted with finely chopped, cooked spinach that has been pressed to remove excess liquid. Also below, vegan alternatives.

Baked, stuffed squash blossoms
• 8 – 10 squash blossoms
• 1 cup ricotta*
• 2 eggs*
• 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano*
• Chopped fresh mint
• Salt to taste
• 3/4 cups panko bread crumbs

*VEGAN ALTERNATIVES: Use non-dairy ricotta, sprinkle in some nutritional yeast instead of Parmigiano-Reggiano to add umami, omit the one egg in the cheese mix, and use soy milk in place of the other egg for the egg wash.

1. Pre-heat oven to 400F. Mix the cheese and one egg together, add mint.
2. Open the blossom in one hand and stuff about two tablespoons into the heart of the flower. May be more or less, depending on their size.
3. Twist the blossom closed. Beat the other egg in a bowl, and place the bread crumbs in another. Dip twisted flower in the egg and then sprinkle with bread crumbs.
4. Place them all on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden. (I used my convection fan which made them crispy in under 15 minutes.) No need to turn, just check to make sure they don’t burn.

France’s Galeries Lafayette turns to art and gourmet food to lure shoppers

18 May

France’s chic department store Galeries Lafayette is betting on an art foundation and an Italian gourmet food hall in Paris to help differentiate its brand from bricks-and-mortar rivals and e-commerce competitors.

food

The French capital is attracting a wave of investment into luxury stores and premium food halls as retailers seek to capitalize on a rebound in a tourism industry that was badly hurt by a wave of militant attacks in 2015 and 2016.

The foundation, Lafayette Anticipations, opened on March 10 and Galeries Lafayette plans to open its first Italian food emporium, Eataly, next February near the foundation and its BHV Marais lifestyle department store in the Marais district.

“We are building an ecosystem around the BHV store,” said Nicolas Houze, head of the family owned Galeries Lafayette group, which has revenue of 3.8 billion euros ($4.67 billion) and owns BHV Marais.

Galeries Lafayette is part of a club of French high-end retailers turning to gastronomy to lure more people through their doors. It already has a food court at its flagship Boulevard Haussmann store, where foreigners account for half of its clientele.

Le Printemps in January opened a food hall on the 7th and 8th floors of its Haussmann building dedicated to men’s fashion and luxury group LVMH opened a second upmarket La Grande Epicerie store in Paris’s posh 16th district last year.

“With Eataly and the foundation we are creating a shopping destination. We are building an offer much larger than that of BHV,” said Guillaume Pats, head of buying for BHV Marais.

Galeries Lafayette has the exclusive franchise in France for Eataly, the premium chain renowned for selling Italian truffles, wines and pastas around the world.

The three-storey food hall, now under construction, will spread over 3,500 square meters and include seven restaurants serving 2,500 meals a day, a courtyard fruit and vegetable market, cafes and a cellar with more than 800 Italian wines.

Pats said it would draw hip locals and tourists for whom “Italian food is a safe haven abroad”.

The art foundation, which has moving floors and includes an exhibition tower made of glass, metal and concrete, is located in a 19th-century industrial building and hosts art exhibits and performances. It has a working budget of 21 million euros for the next five years and cost 12 million euros to remodel.

General Mills Sounds Inflation Alarm for Food Industry

18 Apr

Packaged-food companies already are struggling to respond to a shift in consumer preferences toward healthier, simpler foods. Now they also have to contend with higher input prices.

BN

General Mills GIS -8.85% shares fell nearly 9% Wednesday after the company lowered operating-profit guidance for its full fiscal year ending in May. The maker of Cheerios cereal, Yoplait yogurt and Progresso soups now forecasts adjusted earnings-per-share growth of zero to 1% for the period, down from its earlier guidance of 3% to 4% growth.

The company cited higher commodity prices—including grains, nuts and dairy—as well as rising logistics and freight costs. On a conference call, management was contrite for not catching the trend of accelerating inflation earlier, and it outlined plans to respond by cutting costs, reconfiguring logistics networks and raising some prices.

But analysts on the call voiced skepticism that General Mills has room to pass higher costs on to consumers in the current tough environment. Among other factors, discount grocery chains are taking market share and pressuring suppliers to keep prices low. Shoppers also are increasingly willing and able to compare prices online. During a previous bout of commodity price inflation a decade ago, companies like General Mills raised prices stealthily by shrinking package sizes, but this approach has inherent limits.

While sounding pessimistic on costs, General Mills talked up its sales performance. Having shrunk for several quarters, organic net sales growth turned modestly positive over the past two quarters. This was aided by new products like Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheerios. But this success shouldn’t be exaggerated. The company’s guidance for the full fiscal year is still for flat organic net sales.

The acquisition of natural pet-food maker Blue Buffalo Pet Products will help flatter overall sales growth in future quarters. It won’t do much to aid cost efficiency, though, since pet food is a new product segment with few expense synergies.

Shares of rival packaged-food companies fell along with General Mills Wednesday, with Campbell Soup down by 2.2% and Kellogg falling 4%. For investors, weak sales and rising costs make for an unappetizing mix.

The best and worst cities for running a food truck

22 Mar

Want to start a food truck business? Head to Portland, Oregon. Or try Denver or Orlando.

Portland is the “most friendly” city in the country for food trucks, according to a new study of industry regulations released Wednesday by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, followed by Denver and Orlando.

Florida, Miami, Wynwood Life Street Festival, Belgian Waffle Food Truck

Philadelphia and Indianapolis rounded out the Chamber’s list of the five U.S. cities with the best business climate for food trucks, a booming industry that has quadrupled in size in the last three years alone. Food trucks generated an estimated $2.7 billion in revenue in 2017, up from $650 million in 2014, the study found.

“Food trucks continue to be vehicles for entrepreneurial opportunity and economic growth,” the study noted. “Government regulators, though, have been slow to adapt their rules to this new breed of entrepreneur.”

To drive that point home, the study also listed the five “most challenging” cities for food trucks: Boston, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Minneapolis, and Seattle.

Obtaining a food truck permit in Washington requires “23 separate trips to local agencies,” the study found, compared to eight similar visits in Denver. Running a food truck in Boston costs up to $38,000 in annual regulatory fees; in Portland, the cost is just $5,000.

Food trucks face other challenges as well. In Minneapolis, for example, food trucks must park at least 100 feet away from a restaurant, 300 feet away from a commercial building, and 500 feet away from a “sports event,” according to the study, restrictions that make it harder for vendors to set up in prime areas with high foot traffic.

In some neighborhoods in Los Angeles, food trucks must move locations every hour. Some cities make it hard to obtain a food truck permit at all; the waiting list for a permit in New York is 15 years, the study found.

“I know people with food vending businesses in New York City and they’re on the waiting list for a permit for 20 years,” said David Schiaratua, who runs Frenchy’s Food Truck in Brooklyn, New York. Schiaratua said fighting parking tickets and other violations is a constant part of his job. “It’s not an easy business,” he said.

“In many major cities regulations for food trucks can be confusing, duplicative, and in some cases nonsensical,” Carolyn Cawley, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, said in a statement.

The foundation, an arm of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said its 12-month study was the “most comprehensive ever conducted” of food truck regulations.

The research firm ndp analytics and Argive, a nonprofit that advocates for fewer regulations, contributed work to the study as well. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation said that the Institute for Justice, a libertarian group, and the National Food Truck Association, the industry’s top lobbying group, also assisted with the report.

The industry’s growth in recent years has caused tension with traditional restaurants, especially in cities like Denver with favorable regulations for food trucks.

“Some of our brick and mortar stores get a little concerned when some of the food trucks” park too close to restaurants, said Carolyn Livingston, the communications director for the Colorado Restaurant Association.

But Livingston said the explosion of food trucks was good for the broader restaurant industry.

“Any opportunity to raise the level of awareness about going out to eat is good for our entire industry.”

The flu-fighters martini

22 Feb

3792
This alcohol-free bug-buster is the perfect tipple for cold evenings, and a great one to get you through the last weekend of dry January.

Serves 1

80ml coconut water (preferably raw)
50ml fresh orange juice
15ml fresh lemon juice
15ml fresh lime juice
20ml elderflower cordial (organic, for preference)
20ml pure aloe vera juice
1 thumbnail-sized piece root ginger, peeled, plus 1 slice extra to garnish
1cm-wide slice large red chilli

Put everything in a blender, blitz smooth, then pass through a sieve (it’s fine unsieved, but the drink will then be spicier because of all the little chilli flecks through it).

Put a handful of ice in a shaker, add the blitzed mix and shake hard. Pour into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a slice of fresh ginger.